THE WKU PHOTOJOURNALISM PROGRAM’S MOUNTAIN WORKSHOPS ANNOUNCES CYNTHIANA, HARRISON COUNTY, KENTUCKY AS THIS YEAR’S WORKSHOP LOCATION
OCT. 29 – NOV 3, 2019
The Mountain Workshops, now in their 44th year, is an internationally recognized collection of simultaneous workshops on photojournalism, video storytelling, picture editing and collaborative digital storytelling.
In what started as a class project to document one-room schoolhouses in Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee, the Mountain now hosts roughly 100 visual storytellers each year as they explore a different Kentucky community.
This October, these participants and faculty will tell the stories of the small northeastern Kentucky town of Cynthiana. Established in 1793 by Robert Harrison, it is believed he named the town after his two daughters, Cynthia and Anna. Home to 6,200 residents (18,000 in Harrison County) Cynthiana is a quiet community nestled in the middle of the Louisville, Lexington and Cincinnati “golden triangle.” A rich history of tobacco and bourbon whiskey still lingers here.
Each participant will tell a story about a community member that, as tradition dictates, they draw out of a hat. Participants typically have journalistic training and come from a variety of journalism schools and professions, but it is not limited to those in the newsgathering business. Attendees come from various storytelling backgrounds and sometimes come back to the workshop several times. It is the rich traditions of this workshop that make it one of the oldest photojournalism workshops in the country.
Scott Applewhite, a Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist with the Associated Press, said the workshop environment is crucial to the next generation. “Where would any of us journeymen (photojournalists) be if we had not been guided by seasoned pros who had walked the path before us. Bless you for always giving so much of yourself to our emerging photojournalists, especially this week at the Mountain Workshops,” said Applewhite in an open letter to the workshop faculty last year.
Industry challenges over the last 25 years has changed the structure of the Workshops. Where once film was processed in tiny bathrooms, digital labs full of computers and high-end digital cameras now fill the headquarters which are provided by the communities each year. As the business of photojournalism has changed tremendously, the multitude of mentors and coaches that volunteer their time have kept the Mountain Workshop’s values intact. It’s always about the story.
Nicole Raucheisen who attended the 2018 Video Storytelling Workshop, worked on a story about a volunteer fireman. He was burned in an explosion over 30 years ago receiving burns over 30% of his body. Raucheisen was touched by her time with her subject.
“When someone is more open to the process it allows you to take more risks. It allows me to think of more interesting ways – to push a little deeper – to go underneath surface-level storytelling. The interactions that I’ve had here will inform how I produce stories in the future, particularly when dealing with sensitive subject matter,” said Raucheisen.
About 150 participants, faculty and staff will gather in Cynthiana in October, a community sitting on the Licking River and priding itself on its close-knit community. The Mountain Workshops will produce documentary shorts, still images and collaborative projects in the hope of capturing the spirit of the people and their love for who they are and where they are from. There will also be a book and a traveling gallery.
“Only well-informed, warm-hearted people can teach others things they’ll always remember and love. I think the most important thing participants will learn isn’t about gear, or lighting, or technique — those are valuable in the short term. By (Mountain’s) example, they are learning how to give back,” said Applewhite.